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Plants for Cubicles?

Cliff posted more than 9 years ago | from the green-with-your-grey dept.

Biotech 150

Frank of Earth asks: "Our company recently moved to a new location and I was lucky enough to get a cube with a window. Now that I actually can benefit from sunshine, I thought it would be cool to grow something in a potted container. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be a lot of information on growing plants in your cube. Most of the indoor plant growing topics I found are related to illegal types of plant growing you do in your closet. What types of plants make good cube plants with a geek flare? Rather than just growing a boring spider plant, I would like to grow something cool like a fruit or vegetable. If you've had experience growing something unique, please post your thoughts!" What kind of plant would you grow in your cubicle?

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Get an Amarilys (3, Informative)

Pig Hogger (10379) | more than 9 years ago | (#11456710)

They look strange (perfect for a geek) and the three huge flowers, then they pop-out, are a huge gratification.

Plus the time it takes to grow will make everyone wonder what's going on, and before long, everyone will pay you a visit everyday to see how it's doing.

And when it finally blooms, everyone will congratulate you for a job well done!

Re:Get an Amarilys (3, Informative)

white1827 (848173) | more than 9 years ago | (#11456856)

Amarillys only bloom once a year near christmas. The rest of the year they are an ungly bulb half sticking out of dirt. Although that could be an interesting conversation piece in it's own right.

Re:Get an Amarilys (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11456896)

Amarillys only bloom once a year near christmas.

That would depend on which half of the earth you live on. Still, either throw it away after it blooms or take it home. I'm lucky to live where I can just plant them outside.

Re:Get an Amarilys (1)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 9 years ago | (#11457556)

Unless it's actually a man-eating Triffid and it kills everyone. Gotta watch out for that.

Bonsai Tree (1)

drkich (305460) | more than 9 years ago | (#11456741)

I attempted to do this, but the thing died. However, I do not have much of a green thumb. If you do, they look pretty cool.

Re:Bonsai Tree (2, Informative)

douthitb (714709) | more than 9 years ago | (#11457357)

I would agree that a bonsai tree is definitely the way to go, although I will admit that they can be a bit difficult to care for. I have two of them in my house, and everyone who comes over asks about them. If you put one in your cubicle, you will instantly transform into Mr. Popular.

Another thing to consider is that there are actually many types of bonsai trees, each with their own distinct style. Check out http://www.bonsaisite.com/ [bonsaisite.com] for lots of good info styles, growing and care of bonsai trees.

Re:Bonsai Tree (2, Interesting)

orangesquid (79734) | more than 9 years ago | (#11457832)

Try a bonsai kitten. ;)

OK, ok, you wanted fruits and vegetables---I would suggest peppers. They grow pretty quickly, aren't hard to grow, and you can use them in your lunches.

Also, you can cultivate morning glories. They're not actually illegal (it's just illegal to consume the seeds), and I'm sure once you have a batch of seeds, a few people will covertly approach you and ask to buy some seeds off of you. It's not illegal to sell seeds (as long as you don't know they're being used illicitly), so you'd be doing nothing wrong, and making money. However, I don't know how much space they take...

Re:Bonsai Tree (1)

c0bw3b (530842) | more than 9 years ago | (#11459160)

No, I don't believe it's illegal to consume the seeds. It's inadvisable to eat commercially distributed seeds, as I believe they coat them with something that would make it unpleasant. I'm sure it's illegal to extract the LSA or whatever the active ingredient is from the seed, but eating them .. it just wouldn't make sense to make that illegal. I'm sure www.erowid.org has better information. Don't think I can get there at work, though.

woot! (3, Funny)

Frank of Earth (126705) | more than 9 years ago | (#11456744)

/. accepted my story idea!

Thankfully I didn't use any links to my homepage-- that would have been really stupid and costly [ignore the links in my signature!]

Re:woot! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11456922)

What a pointless, vapid post. Congrats.

Re:woot! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11457294)

Yay lets slashdot the bastid

Plants? (2, Funny)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 9 years ago | (#11457533)

Oh!

You mean those crispy, brown things...

Re:woot! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11457623)

Well, while you're at the computer, maybe you can head over to dictionary.com and find out the difference between 'flare' and 'flair'. What the hell is a "geek flare" anyways? Is that a device used by beautiful women to warn other beautiful women that you're in the neighborhood?

Re:woot! (1)

Frank of Earth (126705) | more than 9 years ago | (#11457989)

Remember to always have at least 12 pieces of flare on at all times. Of course, that could cause a fire so you probably would want to carry around some water.

You're right, I should have used flair. At least I used the correct "you're" in this post.

Re:woot! (1)

batemanm (534197) | more than 9 years ago | (#11459109)

What the hell is a "geek flare" anyways?

Lighting a grill [archive.org] with liquid oxygen would probably count.

you know you want it (2, Funny)

passthecrackpipe (598773) | more than 9 years ago | (#11456768)

Try this [purdue.edu] Grows everywhere, under almost every condition, everybody will love you, you will be very popular. Good for your health as well.

Re:you know you want it (1)

KyleJacobson (788441) | more than 9 years ago | (#11456843)

Thats what he said he didnt want to get. So that plant is out of the question.

I would recommend a cactus, small, simple, easy to take care of. Doesn't need a lot of water all the time, so if you take a week or two off, you don't have to worry about it dying if someone forgets to water it one day.

Re:you know you want it (2, Funny)

passthecrackpipe (598773) | more than 9 years ago | (#11457104)

He did not say he did not want it, he said there is lots of info about it on the net....

Re:you know you want it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11457163)

Illegal? What kind of rights disrespecting country do you live in?

Oh wait..they're, like, all like that...:( /me libertarian cry (it's where you stand real proud like, also making sure not to have your tears fall on anyone else's property).

Re:you know you want it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11457897)

Thats what he said he didnt want to get. So that plant is out of the question.

Holy fuck. Lighten up, Kyle!

Re:you know you want it (2, Informative)

phaze3000 (204500) | more than 9 years ago | (#11456848)

Heh, was going to suggest the same.. :)

Take a look at this excellent video guide [pot-tv.net] for step by step instructions..

This sucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11456808)

Sorry!

A large tray of wheatgrass? (2, Informative)

Klowner (145731) | more than 9 years ago | (#11456817)

Imagine a potential client visiting your cubicle, and you feel like you could use a little energy boost, just stroll over to your tray of wheatgrass and graze for a few moments, then rip some out and offer a small handfull to your client.

I think it would really impress them.

You could start wearing animal hides as well, that's also impressive.

(seriously though, wheatgrass is easy to grow, and you can nibble on it or juice it)

bonsai!! (2, Informative)

St. Arbirix (218306) | more than 9 years ago | (#11456824)

I have several bonsai all over my computer desk, on the computer speakers, and sitting in the window by my desk. Azaleas are perfectly suited for indoor life. Also nice is the rabbit's foot fern on one of the speakers which just looks weird and multiplies as fast as a spider plant. Behind my computer (a laptop permanently fixed on my desk) is a small cluster of palms of some sort which enjoy the heat that my laptop's fan pumps out at them.

Occasionally the fern will droop down low enough to get in the way of my screen. This is a really good indicator that the plants need watering.

Re:bonsai!! (1)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 9 years ago | (#11458804)

Post pictures? Sounds interesting.

The BPFH: Dionaea Muscipula (2, Funny)

Kosi (589267) | more than 9 years ago | (#11456862)

And if it's grown enough, you can even feed her your lusers.

Re:The BPFH: Dionaea Muscipula (1)

Paul d'Aoust (679461) | more than 9 years ago | (#11458494)

heh, on the subject of plants that move when you touch them, how about a mimosa pudica [demon.co.uk] ? It is a tree, but you can keep it in your cube when it's still a sapling... apparently when you touch the leaves, or give the plant's pot a good sharp tap, the leaves fold up and droop towards the ground. (according to the link, it's a protection against locusts.)

Everybody loves lemonade... (2, Informative)

tibike77 (611880) | more than 9 years ago | (#11456868)

You can try a lemon tree ; sure, you'd have to wait a couple of years (or buy an older plant) before you can actually get a lemon out of it :p
Anyway, the plant smells nice and it's quite resilient - my sister had a larger one in her room for almost 15 years.

Re:Everybody loves lemonade... (1)

panker (461977) | more than 9 years ago | (#11456979)

Lemon trees are neat to mess with. If you support a lemon's weight artificially, it won't break from the branch, but continue to grow. You can get them to be as big as cantelopes pretty easily. They stop resembling lemons after a while. They more look like a brain.

Re:Everybody loves lemonade... (2, Informative)

mls (97121) | more than 9 years ago | (#11458735)

If you are in a Northern climate, and don't have a sunny Southern facing window, I would avoid the lemon tree. They can be hard to keep alive during the Winter months when you live in someplace like Minnesota for example.

Not exactly a cubicle, but... (1)

00Sovereign (106393) | more than 9 years ago | (#11456874)

my lab workbench has giant windows that get lots of sunlight.

Being a biologist (but not a botanist) I've experimented with various plants. Currently I have 3 pothos (philodendron) vines, and a small palm tree. The vines are great, you can drape them over anything and they bring a nice natural look to an artificial environment. They don't require a lot of light, and only need watered once a week. On the first of the month, I usually spike their drink with a bit of fertilizer (Miracle grow) to replace nitrogen and minerals in the soil. The big one is about 40 feet long now.

The palm tree gives a nice tropical feel to the area, esecially during the D.C. winters. It does, however, require direct sunlight, and for it I follow the same watering regimen as the philodendrons.

One plant that I've wanted to try in the lab are Venus fly-traps. They can be very tricky to grow. IIRC, they need low to moderate sunlight, and the choice of soil is critical. Too much fertilizer (nitrogen) and they die. In the wild they like moist peat, and they get their nitrogen from catching flies. I always thought that carnivorous plants would be great for an office setting. Especially if you're like me and often just want to work in peace.

Re:One thing I forgot... (1)

00Sovereign (106393) | more than 9 years ago | (#11456971)

I don't usually reply to my own posts, but if your office doesn't have flies (The fruit fly labs upstairs would keep my lab well stocked), you can use raw hamburger. Or eventually annoying coworkers if the plant gets big enough. :)

You grow Venus fly traps in *soil*? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11458105)

The one I recently got came entirely in sphagnum moss. No soil at all I believe. Tips?

Ask the experts (1)

WyerByter (727074) | more than 9 years ago | (#11456878)

I would have to say, ask your local florist. I currently have a christmas cactus in my cube that I got from my florist, and it's doing very well despite the fact that I do not have a window and the lights almost never get turned off. It has survived a whole month so far.
You could also consult your local home improvement store or nursery, which ever one you know where is.

Cactii (4, Informative)

Loacher (816765) | more than 9 years ago | (#11456909)

I would recommend a cactus.

They require little care (water once a week during the warm months, none at all during the cold months, fertilize once a year), so they can survive vacations and weekends unattended.

Cactii come in all kinds of strange, unique geeky forms, and several produce weird looking edible fruit.

Look up epiphyllum catus, beautifull flowers, and fruit that tastes like passionfruit (smell before eating, goes bad very fast).

Most mammillarias produce small red edible fruits, and some have very interesting shapes. Look up mamillaria elongata cristate, or Mammillaria bocasana 'Fred', one of my favourites.

If you like really weird shapes, look up Euphorbias, I specially like my Euphorbia obesa cristate.

Note: Cristate means a Crested fromd of the plant. They usually look like brains.

Re:Cactii (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11458307)

peyote has wonderful fruit too.

too bad it takes so long to grow.

Re:Cactii (1)

Loacher (816765) | more than 9 years ago | (#11458518)

Actually, the Lophophora williamsii cactus (peyote), produces small pinkish flowers, that mature into a small reddish fruit.

This fruit, while not certainly poisonous, is not considered edible. It is bitter, full of seeds, with no flesh.

This fruit has a very low concentration of psychoactive alkaloids. You would neeed to eat almost 50 grams of fruit for every kilogram you weight to start feeling anything.

If you ever consider trying peyote, do some research on which part to eat, and how to cut it off the plant without killing it.

(I will not go into a rant about all the uninformed tourists DIGGING UP whole peyote plants, boiling the root, and throwing the rest away, leaving the San Luis Potosi desert full of holes, and endangering the species)

Re:Cactii (1)

hab136 (30884) | more than 9 years ago | (#11459893)

I'll second this; I had a small cactus in cubicle hell at a bank for two years. Occasionally throw some water in there, that's about it for upkeep. Offices are often dry, and lit up for long hours (6am-9pm in my case), which cactii are fine with.

Plus it's hilarious when cow-orkers walk up and say "Hey, is that sharp? OW!!" :)

Shade loving species (1)

n1ywb (555767) | more than 9 years ago | (#11456920)

Even though you have a window, you'll find that shade loving (or at least shade tolerating) species will do best. I seriously doubt that you can not find any information on growing indoor plants other than weed on the web, get real. That aside, here are some suggestions: Ferns, look nice, filter the air, easy to grow, love shade. African violets, small, don't require frequent watering so they won't die over weekends or vacations, don't mind shade. They don't bloom often, but they look nice even when they aren't in bloom.

Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia! (3, Interesting)

panker (461977) | more than 9 years ago | (#11456923)

A Chia Head [buying-chia-pets.com] would be interesting in a cubicle. And it would be the source of lots of discussion. Or, how about an underwater plant [watergardenweb.com] ? Or one of those dirtless air plants [mgonline.com] ? Or some wheatgrass [wheatgrasskits.com] .

I grow mold all the time, but nobody seems to be interested or impressed.

Bamboo or Sprouts (2, Interesting)

CsiDano (807071) | more than 9 years ago | (#11456958)

A buddy of mine who happens to be a programmer grows alfalfa sprouts in his window, they are easy to care for and he uses one of those busboy trays like in a restraunt as a planter. Also he has a really nice beer glass filled with nice stones and water and stuck some bamboo into it, then these nice offshoots grow from the sticks.

Re:Bamboo or Sprouts (1)

jmertic (544942) | more than 9 years ago | (#11457858)

Could agree more with Bamboo. I have three big sticks in a nice ceramic vase on my vase and it'd terrific. It's maintainence free as well; I've had it on my desk for about and year and a half and had to water it 2-3 times. It's the best kind of plant for a guy like myself that often kills them.

Something hardy (2, Interesting)

JoeD (12073) | more than 9 years ago | (#11456969)

Find something that can thrive on neglect.

I like jade plants [tamu.edu] . They're very long-lived, and don't require much care beyond watering every couple of weeks. When they get older, they start to look like miniature trees.

Re:Something hardy (1)

Zocalo (252965) | more than 9 years ago | (#11457383)

Find something that can thrive on neglect.

You could try growing Kudzu [ua.edu] , that seems like it fends for itself [jjanthony.com] pretty well. Also, you are not going to be hassled by your fellow cubicle mates asking for cuttings; they'll get them whether they want them or not. If they've got their own plants already, well that's just too bad... Best of all, if you are running Red Hat it will even configure your hardware [redhat.com] for you, so there's a definite geek connection too... ;)

Kudzu... (1)

Dr.Dubious DDQ (11968) | more than 9 years ago | (#11458135)

Believe it or not, I've been wondering what it would take to get some of that. I get the impression that since it went nuts in the southern states it's hard to get elsewhere (people afraid of it taking over...)

If somebody would engineer some oil-producing genes into the stuff we could solve our fuel problems virtually overnight (biodiesel is our friend). I imagine the remains from processing the oil could be pressed into cheap building material, too...

Re:Something hardy (1)

Dr. Evil (3501) | more than 9 years ago | (#11458797)

My ex girlfriend gave me one of these... 8 years ago. It's now four plants, I have to give some away.

These things make great gifts. We broke up on very amicable terms and had a great relationship, so it's a happy little plant to have around.

I'm having some luck with bamboo too. Seems to be quite resiliant, maybe up there with spider plants and devil's ivy.

An obvious choice... (1)

Xaroth (67516) | more than 9 years ago | (#11456999)

If you're going to be growing anything in a cube, it should definitely be one of these:

Tasty! [google.com]

I mean, the parallelism alone would be great!

And when you're done, you could probably use the husk to create a diorama of you growing it in your cube for an extra bit of surrealism in your day.

Euphorbia tirucalli (1)

linuxwrangler (582055) | more than 9 years ago | (#11457020)

How about a euphorbia tirucalli, aka stick-plant, pencil-plant, pencil-cactus, etc? It's definitely different, easy to grow and a converstaion starter. Of course being an odd plant the comments range from "cool, where can I get one" to the classic comment from one of my mother's former neighbors, "What's that?", "It's a pencil plant"...pause..."Ugly f***er, ain't it." Google it for pictures. I found one picture of a dense outdoor plant [gardenweb.com] and a newly potted one [maccactus.com] .

A monstera [desert-tropicals.com] (aka split-leaf philodendron). They are easy to grow from cuttings and trive in an office. Given the right conditions (rarely found in an office) they will also grow a large white flower with a corn-cob sized spike in the middle and the spike will ripen and become edible if you leave it long enough (months) and conditions are right. I have a huge one outside my home and on rare occasions get a ripe spike. It tastes sort of like pineapple but not as acidic.

If you're looking for something different (1)

Vaevictis666 (680137) | more than 9 years ago | (#11457127)

that goes in a small pot (ie on the desk, or on the monitor), try a Venus Fly-Trap :) Bring a bit of gristle or something every once in a while from home for it and it should stay pretty happy.

No idea what the lighting/watering requirements are, though it should be easy enough to find out.

Re:If you're looking for something different (2, Informative)

Rattking (29435) | more than 9 years ago | (#11458577)

Venus Fly-Traps are fun but they are not a hardy plant.. you'll have to water them with distilled water.. tap water will kill em
as for light they don't like direct light
think swamp floor
I grow many house plants and Fly Traps are the only ones I cant keep alive :(

Coolest Looking Plant (1)

Shadow_139 (707786) | more than 9 years ago | (#11457148)

The Fire Lily is the coolest looking plant,
http://http//www.firelily.com/firelily.html/ [http]
Dont know how Cubicle friendly..., but annoying for co-workers is part of your job.... :)

Re:Coolest Looking Plant (1)

squant0 (553256) | more than 9 years ago | (#11457847)

When I click on your link with firefox I am taken to the Microsoft home page. . . kind of weird, but I guess if you want to annoy the Help Desk, it is kind of like a fire lily.

The actual address really is a pic of a fire lily though.

Small bamboo plant... (2, Informative)

dubious9 (580994) | more than 9 years ago | (#11457234)

I've had luck with small bamboo plants. I keep mine filled with water, so there's no overwatering. It doesn't require a lot of light, but they'll grow faster if there's more.

They do grow very slowly though. However, there are many very nicely arranged ones.

Start with some Basil.... (2, Informative)

empirionx3 (728949) | more than 9 years ago | (#11457259)

The first thing that you should try is some Basil. True, it is not a veggie or a fruit, but it is an amazing plant that is great to start a window-box-ish type work project. Start with one of the smaller leaf varities (which should grow very quickly in direct sun... try 'small leaf greek') and see if it's for you, and then you can move onto one of the larger leaf varities (opal or italian large). I've had many co-workers enter my office and comment on how nice the smell is.

Re:Start with some Basil.... (2, Interesting)

Houkster (829643) | more than 9 years ago | (#11458205)

This is what came to my mind. I was thinking herbs to spice up you your lunch or tea. Maybe some mint. Another idea would be to get a strawberry pot with the multiple openings and see how many strawberries you can harvest for the year. One final option would be to setup some sort of salad garden in a box. That one might be interesting with leaf lettuce and some herbs to add to a vinegar and oil dressing.

"lucky enough to get a cube with a window" (1)

Dark Lord Seth (584963) | more than 9 years ago | (#11457327)

Odd definition of lucky. How about working in a place where they actually treat you as a human being? (No cubicles at all?)

Re:"lucky enough to get a cube with a window" (1)

Psmylie (169236) | more than 9 years ago | (#11459158)

Don't knock cubicles, man. I admit, I did have problems at first adjusting to cubicle life. But after a few years the urge to flee fades completely. Also, I have grown accustomed to the feelings of comfort and security that having my own designated cube to sit in provides me. It's nice knowing exactly where you're going to be for the 8+ hours you will be working. My life is better for the regimentation provided by cubicles.

Now if you will excuse me, it's 1:30 p.m. and time for my afternoon urination.

I like the edibles (1)

bluelip (123578) | more than 9 years ago | (#11457422)

Garlic was fun.
Tomatoes were useful.
Corn was unwieldly after a bit,
Peanuts are next on the list.

Plants like these are a great way to break up the day and increase pleasure in the office.

Mushrooms? (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 9 years ago | (#11457429)

If you're not picky on the exact sort of mushrooms you get then all you need is moisture, not too cold temperatures and some compost. In one of my previous offices we had some mushrooms growing out of the edge of the sink in the pantry...

If you're picky on the sort of mushrooms you want then it's hard...

Hint: don't eat them.

Re:Mushrooms? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11459772)

Actually mushrooms can be quite hard to grow. They can easily develop black mold which will kill them and are easily contaminated by other spores. Mushrooms grow in wierd places only because there are so many spores floating in the air, but to grow them right where you want them becomes harder. Then if you want to grow other generations you need to make spore prints and create spore syringes, etc.

duh (-1, Flamebait)

pizza_milkshake (580452) | more than 9 years ago | (#11457478)

marijuana. great for smoke breaks.

Orchids (1)

trip11 (160832) | more than 9 years ago | (#11457602)

Orchids are not actually as hard as you might think to grow, and are beautiful too. If you go the the store and buy the ones without flowers, they are even very cheap ($10 or so). Just be sure they get enough humidity. There's plenty of information online about growing them, and the flowers are definatly unusual.

Peppers. (1)

manual_overide (134872) | more than 9 years ago | (#11457788)

grow some Chipolte or Habenero peppers. They are pretty and tasty at the same time. They are Pretasty!

Put some on your lunch, or give them away to your coworkers.

Couple of suggestions (1)

yetanothertechie (699283) | more than 9 years ago | (#11457814)


I like African Violets [google.com] - the foliage is nice, (and it's fuzzy!), and it has little blossoms year around. Lots of variety here.

Jade plants [google.com] are cool too. They're succulents - have sort of plump leaves.

Both of these are easy to care for and should do fine in medium light.

Re:Couple of suggestions (1)

jnik (1733) | more than 9 years ago | (#11458652)

My then-girlfriend found African violets to be very very picky--she killed them about as fast as I could keep buying them (no jokes, please). They're kinda picky about just the right amount of water and fry easily in too much sunlight.

Re:Couple of suggestions (1)

jgrahn (181062) | more than 9 years ago | (#11458991)

My then-girlfriend found African violets to be very very picky

It depends. I have a few Saintpaula rupicola which, basically, grow like weed. Much less sensitive than the hybrids which you usually see offered for sale.

Re:Couple of suggestions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11459875)

I have a few Saintpaula rupicola

Cool! I always wondered where those cough-drops come from.

No info? (2, Informative)

Hyrcan (316160) | more than 9 years ago | (#11457830)

Why is it that there has been a lot of "Ask Slashdot" articles that could have simply be answered by asking Google?

Well...incase from some reason Google is blocked by your network here's some suggestions...and web links...

First site from google.com:
All About Houseplants [gardenersnet.com]

Garden Guides: Houseplants- Beauty and Clean Air [gardenguides.com]

More info on what plants, and why:

In the NASA/ALCA research it was determined that some plants are better than others for purifying the air indoors. The twelve plants tested were:


* Bamboo palm, Chamaedorea seifritzii
* Chinese evergreen, Aglaonema modestum
* English ivy
* Fiscus, Benjamina
* Gerbera daisy, Transvaal daisy
* Dracaena 'Janet Craig'
* Dracaena 'Marginata'
* Corn cane, Dracaena massangeana
* Mother-in-law's tongue, Sansevieria laurentii
* Peace lily, Spathiphyllum 'Mauna Loa'
* Pot mum, Chrysanthemum
* Dracaena 'Warneckei'

All plants were tested in a sealed experimental chamber during a 24 hour exposure period. Here are the results of the studies:

Gerbera daisy, Dracaena Marginata, Peace lily (Spathiphyllum), Dracaena 'Janet Craig' and Bamboo palm in order were the five most effective plants in removing Trichloroethylene concentrations from the air.

Gerbera Daisy, pot Mum, Peace lily, Bamboo palm, Dracaena Warneckei, English ivy and Mother-in-law's tongue are the seven top houseplants for removing Benzene concentrations in the air.

Bamboo palm, Dracaena 'Janet Craig', Mother-in-law's tongue, Dracaena Marginata, Peace lily, green Spider plant, and golden pathos are seven of the top plants for removing concentrations of Formaldehyde in the air.

It is estimated, as a result of this research, that 15 to 20 of these test houseplants can purify the interior of a typical house of 1,800 square feet.

In our homes and in space, it looks like we can count on these houseplants to help remove harmful pollutants from the air we breathe. At the same time, these are some of the easiest plants to grow and most attractive to use for interior decorating.
http://www.humeseeds.com/purify.htm [humeseeds.com]

Re:No info? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11457894)

Perhaps you're lacking in reading comprehension. Of course you could find info about growing any type of plant your grandma is probably growing on our window sill right now. He clearly states he was looking at veggies/fruits or something unique with a geek flavor.

Re:No info? (1)

Hyrcan (316160) | more than 9 years ago | (#11458201)

Actully what he said was:
Rather than just growing a boring spider plant, I would like to grow something cool like a fruit or vegetable.


Silly of me, to think that plants picked out by NASA to be the most effeciant Air Purifiers was pretty cool, considering how much outgassing items in a typical office produce.

But to as you pointed out he did have an interest in fruits and vegetable...so let a second quick trip to google came up with these.

The Insatiable [homeharvest.com]
Gardener's Guide

Vegetable Gardening in Containers [vt.edu]

Zinnias! (2, Interesting)

De Bas Meister (797791) | more than 9 years ago | (#11457891)

I suggest growing zinnias [seedsofknowledge.com] . They're easy to grow, grow quickly, and turn out some darn impressive blooms. Plus, you can always use them to surprise coworkers of the opposite sex...

How about an ecosystem (2, Interesting)

lukesky (211936) | more than 9 years ago | (#11457905)

You can have your very own ecosystem, complete with water and fish. It will not need any care (only a little light), since the bowl is completely sealed.

http://www.gadgets.co.uk/eco-sphere-ecosphere-sh ri mp-ecosystem.html

I thought of buying one myself, just for the geekfactor.

Re:How about an ecosystem (1)

Frank of Earth (126705) | more than 9 years ago | (#11458142)

Actually, I had one of these, but when we moved offices, I had to bring it home... of course, I forgot and left in the car and the thing froze solid and killed my little shrimpies!

To recharge it is almost as expensive as buying a new one so I'm going to try to "recharge" it myself.

Here are a few links:

http://www.amazingtoystore.com/clearplasgeo.html
http://http://livebrineshrimp.com/

My aloe is doing fine (1)

marcus (1916) | more than 9 years ago | (#11459664)

It's about twice as big as it was when my sis gave it to me. It has even been harvested a couple of times.

Other than than what could be more geeky than quadrotriticale [google.com]

If you can't find any sprouts or seeds of that, then get some of this [google.com] instead. You can get it here [nitro-pak.com] Just plant 4 pots and fudge it! ;-)

Venus Fly Trap (1)

degraeve (780907) | more than 9 years ago | (#11457907)

Although they don't require direct sunlight, venus fly traps make a good conversation starter.

Re:Venus Fly Trap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11459812)

An even better conversation starter are those carnivorous plants which smell like rotting corpses. In fact people don't even need to come to your cube to start a conversation. They will just follow their nose, and by the time they arrive I am sure they will have something to say.

pineapple (2, Interesting)

joejor (578266) | more than 9 years ago | (#11458037)

On my desk, I have a pineapple plant. You can start you own by saving the crown of any store-bought pineapple. Mine is growing hydroponically in a glass jar. The plant is very forgiving and can handle prolonged neglect. I've let my jar run dry up to a week.

Get a Corn Plant (Dracaena Fragrans) (1)

Karl J. Smith (184) | more than 9 years ago | (#11458069)

I've had a corn plant for 13 years. I forget to water it for a month sometimes. It's doing fine. It doesn't need much light, either.

With some fertilizer, it decided to bloom and put out spectactularly-scented flowers.

http://www.evergrowing.com/tips/cornplant.htm [evergrowing.com]

Ask the experts (2, Insightful)

DaveJay (133437) | more than 9 years ago | (#11458226)

Since I don't know of a slashdot for gardeners (stemdot?) I recommend going to your local greenhouse, and telling them you want something...

1. for indoors (duh);
2. that will get light from [whatever direction your window faces];
3. that generally requires a drenching of water once a week, but can handle twice a week and won't die if it doesn't have water for two weeks.

They'll have a whole selection for you. Unless, of course, you'd rather stick with doing the equivalent of asking people in the gardening forum what kind of computer to buy for ordering seeds online. ;)

I recommend (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 9 years ago | (#11458354)

you get one of those plants from Little shop of Horrors [wikipedia.org] . Not only will it eat your PHB, it will do a little song and dance afterwards!

Dwarf tomato plants (2, Informative)

drokus (116100) | more than 9 years ago | (#11458584)

I have grown Japanese dwarf tomatoes in small containers indoors with no problems. The tomatoes are about the size of a large cherry with some plants producing yellow and some red. Pretty cool 12 to 15 inch plants with more tomatoes than you would think.

A fern (2, Interesting)

bluesourcecode (820052) | more than 9 years ago | (#11458658)

They are uniquely beautiful plants, they live a long time, require little maintenance. They are also quite adaptable when it comes to amount of sunlight.

Of course, if you have some room and really want a conversation starter, grab yourself a "Laurier" [google.ca] (not sure of the english name). Its quite an impressive plant. Mine is 6 feet tall and lives with about 3 hours of direct sunlight+rest of the day in shade.

As a rule of thumb, avoid any plant which requires constant or high humidity, since the windows will most likely trigger variations (sunlight/aircurrent/heating) when you are not there (weekend/vacations). However, anything with a big, unexposed pot will be able to fare better ,even when the plant is in exposed conditions.

Jalapeno plant (1)

Nickvotrobeck (469878) | more than 9 years ago | (#11458701)

A co-worker of mine once grew a small jalapeno plant in his cube and succesfully produced edible peppers within a year. Surprisingly, this worked without the benefit of a window; the plant grew quite well on fluorescent light alone.

Habanero (1)

Sentry21 (8183) | more than 9 years ago | (#11458849)

My roommate has been growing some habanero plants for quite a while. I guess he waters them profusely every now and then, and uses plant food meant for tomatos, and the crazy thing has grown twice its size in two weeks. Very rewarding, and edible too!

Upside-down tomato garden (2, Interesting)

autarkeia (152712) | more than 9 years ago | (#11458884)

I saw this upside-down tomato garden [hammacher.com] on a recent flight in SkyMall and thought it looked pretty cool. The tomato plants grow downwards and then you can plant something else on top. It's rather large, but I think it's rather unusual and is the ideal geek planter.

bonsai (2, Interesting)

Glog (303500) | more than 9 years ago | (#11458919)

If you want to be original I'd suggest adding a bonsai to the cubicle farm. You can get as geeky as you want with it - there is lots to learn about bonsai care and it might even make a nice hobby when you are not dealing with IT stuff.

true geeks won't worry about the kind of plant... (1)

Derek (1525) | more than 9 years ago | (#11458927)

...they will worry that the webcam pointing to it has 100% uptime.

-Derek

Fruit huh? (1)

OctaneZ (73357) | more than 9 years ago | (#11459003)

You can grow a small lemon tree in your office rather easily, keep in mind it will only bear about a dozen to a dozen and a half lemons a year, but it is different, and colorful.

zerg (1)

Lord Omlette (124579) | more than 9 years ago | (#11459073)

Can anyone recommend cool plants in the same vein as the submitter, but ones that don't have flowers? You know, for all the geeks allergic to pollen?

Easy to grow, NOT hard(like a pepper!) (1)

solafide (845228) | more than 9 years ago | (#11459078)

I am a avid gardener, and a little less didicated to geekhood, so this is a great question!

Lettuce is nice, especially as a small leaf salad. Or you could have just a few in their own pots, and eat the outer leafs every once in a while. Okra is geeky, though a little tall, you can always cut it down when it gets too tall. That would need pollination. For something viney, sweetpotatoes work well, though not easy to get to produce anything. Radishes are a little out of taste, nor are they pretty aboveground. Cucumbers need pollination too, and are not too easy.

In the way of flowers, a lemon tree would be right on. Also try a butterfly bush. It would need frequent pruning to keep it small, but it could be done for a year or two.

What not to do: Peppers are tough except for hot ones, so if you like them, go to it. Tomatos are miserable. Wheatgrass is all right, but not very longlived.

He said that he wanted something legal, not Cannabis. Are morning glory seeds illegal, and why? Stick to the subject!

Billy

Potato! (2, Funny)

orkysoft (93727) | more than 9 years ago | (#11459174)

Get a potato plant, take care of it meticulously, even coming in during the weekends to water it, only to have it die when it's almost full-grown!

herbs (1)

Yonder Way (603108) | more than 9 years ago | (#11459183)

Chives spring immediately to mind. They do need to be watered regularly, but provide abundantly with fresh seasoning for your lunches. They also reproduce vegetatively so one cluster of bulbs will spawn additional clusters so you can afford to give some away or grow more.

Mints do well, but need a larger pot, lots of water, and will take over a good part of your window. The upside is that they smell great if you do so much as rub against the leaves, and the leaves are great as an herbal infusion.

If you are lousy at watering your plants, aloe vera thrives on neglect. I wouldn't look to it for culinary uses but its healing properties are the stuff of legend (and, in my experience, it's a reputation that is largely deserved).

Ask HR first (2, Insightful)

travail_jgd (80602) | more than 9 years ago | (#11459192)

I hate to be a party pooper, but if you work at a bigger company you should check with someone first: either Human Resources or Maintenance.

One large company I was with had very specific rules about what could and could not be kept in the office. While it seemed really petty and controlling on the surface, I was told that problems with insect infestation (especially ants) and allergy-causing plants were the reason.

Or you could always get a silk flower, and impress the ladies with your gardening skill. Just remember to dust it every week or so. ;)

Why Plants? (1)

jakel2k (736582) | more than 9 years ago | (#11459204)

There are other alternative to plants. You go to a local toy store and get some Sea Monkeys, (you could also go to the local petstore and but a package of brine shrimp eggs). Or if you want more aggressive creatures you could get some triops. Very aggressive and a great conversation starter. All of the above would fit in a small container on a standard desk.

Sea Monkeys
Monkey [sea-monkeys.com]
Monkey [seamonkeyworship.com]
Monkey [coqui.net]

Triops
Triops [mytriops.com]
Triops [triops.cc]
Triops [triops.com]

Corpseflower (1)

Rie Beam (632299) | more than 9 years ago | (#11459520)

The smell should be enough to get you out of work for the rest of the day. Of course you have to wait half a decade for it to work...

Philodendron (1)

jhines (82154) | more than 9 years ago | (#11459874)

Easy to grow, low light requirements.

Avacado (2, Informative)

mattsucks (541950) | more than 9 years ago | (#11460098)

Growing an avacado from a pit is pretty cool. After you use an avacado, take the pit and suspend it, round side down, in a small bowl or glass of water. I use 3 toothpicks, stuck into the outside of the avacado, roughly equidistant around the middle and halfway down. You want maybe the lower 1/3 in the water. After that, some references will tell you to give it a week in the dark, and some say to just sit it in the sun. I am lazy, so I just put mine on the windowsill and let them go.

After a week to a month, the darned thing will sprout. You'll want to keep water in the bowl, and let it grow until you have 3 or 4 strong leaves. Then transplant to a small pot, keep it watered, and there you have it.

You won't get a full-sized tree (they grow 60' 70' tall in the wild) and you probably won't get fruit, but the leaves are pretty, and its cool to tell people that you're growing an avacodo tree.

This is a decent refs: at AllSands.com [allsands.com] . Of course a google for "growing avacado" will get 100s of results as well.

I've also grown small herbs (ha ha, not THAT herb) in office settings. Basil, oregano, thyme, some mints .. the plants are pretty, they smell great, and if they get plenty of sun they'll flower. Nothing big and showy, but quite nice overall.

Word of Warning (3, Informative)

RedHat Rocky (94208) | more than 9 years ago | (#11460802)

Watch for nasty visitors your plant may introduce or attract to your workplace.

A coworker once had a plant in his cube, it became infested with some kind of mite. These mites then migrated through the halls to some other plants, can't recall if they killed the plants or what the deal was. Caused quite the stir, plants at desks were banned from then on.
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